I. The Fundamental Revelation of Human Gender and Marriage
II. The Covenant as a Marital Relationship
III. The Revelation Unfolded Through The Great Women Prophets
IV. The Implications of Gender Roles As Prophecy for the Liturgical Priesthood
Shall I tell you how marriage is also a mystery of the Church? Christ came into the Church, and She was made of Him and He united with Her in spiritual intercourse…So marriage is a type of the presence of Christ. (St John Chrysostom).
As the holy Prophet Esdras stood gazing upon the ruins of Jerusalem, lamenting over the fallen Zion, he heard the sound of weeping behind him. Turning, he saw an old woman bent in grief and inexpressible sorrow. Seeking to comfort her he asked, “What is the cause of your great sorrow, woman?” He expected her to cry out that, she too lamented for fallen Zion, but instead she responded, “Sir, I had one only son, the joy and consolation of his father and me. He took a bride for himself, but on his wedding day, as he entered his bridal chamber, he fell down and was killed. And this is the cause of my grief.” Esdras was angered: “Woman, do you not see that Jerusalem has been laid waste; her children are slain or carried away in bondage, and you weep only for the loss of one son…”
So saying, he turned to face the ruins of the Holy City. When he turned back, he saw no-one; the old woman had vanished. As he marvelled at this an angel spoke to him and said, “do you not realize that the old woman was Zion?”
At the dawn of the New Testament era, the unnamed prophet and bishop of Hermas left us the details of a similar vision. A barren old woman appears to him. She is identified as “the Church of the Old Covenant,” barren, but hoping on the promise.
In these two revelations we have an insight into the unique role of the great Old Testament women prophets, and into the concept that the creation of humanity as male and female has something to do with revelation. The dividing of humanity into two genders has a prophetic intent. This realization that gender is connected to prophecy and revelation has been lost largely because man, in his arrogance, began to relate the respective roles of men and women to relative value. When “role” was identified with “value” humanity was degraded, women were reduced to serfdom and the whole mystery and meaning of human gender and marriage was lost.
I. The Fundamental Revelation of Human Gender and Marriage
It cannot be that God created male and female simply in order to complicate our lives, visit us with consuming passions or distract us from contemplating paradise. Rather the mystery of human gender must bear in itself some prophecy concerning the meaning of our lives, some revelation of the relationship between God and man, and the nature of our redemption.
Man and woman were not created to exist in egoistic isolation, and man and woman are not two totally separate beings, for neither can, on their own, fulfil God’s command to be fruitful and multiply. Rather, they are two halves of one whole, called upon to dwell together in a sanctified unity, drawing together in an increasing love, so that in such a state of oneness, they may rise from carnal to spiritual love and so aspire toward the Creator, having discovered through their own ascent in love, the hint of that higher and more perfect love which seeks freedom from the bonds of fleshly passions.
Marriage provides us with an opportunity and a means to grow and develop in the spiritual and emotional realm, but this growth and development can only take place on a firm foundation of genuine commitment to each other, and a mutual, sincere commitment to God. The bond of unity and ever-growing love between husband and wife is designed to give humanity a basic experience and awareness of a growth in love toward unity with God, made possible by Jesus Christ. Marriage, according to the Apostle, is a type of Christ and the Church. It is intended to instruct us, not by means of abstract concepts or in books or words, but in an actual living experience, about Christ and the Church, and our whole relationship with God. Inasmuch as we see that neither man alone nor woman alone bears a complete prophecy, for the man cannot bear fruit alone, nor can the woman, it is clear that the revelation of our salvation includes both Christ (who is revealed through the male prophets) and the Church (which is revealed through the female prophets), and that Christ saves us through the Church.
There are two important aspects of the revelations that take place through human gender. The first is given through the nature of prophecy in the Old Testament, and in particular, the context of the revelation that was given through the men prophets and that which was given through the women prophets. The second aspect of this revelation is the understanding that the covenant between God and His people is not a legal agreement, but a marital relationship. It is important to understand both these aspects of God’s use of gender as prophecy in order to understand a correct, Orthodox Christian view of the respective roles of men and of women, and to have a clear understanding of the meaning of marriage.
The Covenant as a Marital Relationship
Neither the Old Covenant nor the New Testament were “legal agreements,” rather they were spousal relationships. This was the great error into which the Old Israel fell, and which the prophets warned them about. Israel did not recognize and receive the Christ because He came to her as a heavenly bridegroom seeking his bride. Israel, conceiving the covenant as a “legal contract,” anticipated a stern earthly ruler, come to enforce a violated treaty and establish his will by military and political means. It is for this same reason that Western Christianity fell into an idolatrous concept of atonement.
It is important for us to realize this fact: the Old Covenant was and the New Testament is, a spousal relationship. Only with this realization can we understand the nature of human gender as prophecy and revelation. A brief survey of the book of the Prophet Hosea will summarize the message of all the holy prophets and suffice to open this understanding to us.
Before we examine the prophecy of Hosea, let us look briefly at the way the expression “whoredom” is used in several places in the Old Testament, because the word is significant in Hosea’s revelation.
“Do not prostitute your daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the nation fall into whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.” (Lev.19:29)
In this verse, God clearly ties together the status of women with the condition of His covenant nation. He shows us that women reveal and are a type of the holy nation, His Church. We will find throughout the Old Testament references to the unfaithful Israel as a betrayer of her spouse, a whore, a fornicator and a prostitute — an unfaithful bride. Thus in Ezekiel, we see Israel as a bride who has taken her husbands wedding gifts and fallen into whoredom with them:
“Thou hast taken my fair jewels, my gold and silver which I gave to thee, and created images of men [idols] for yourself and committed whoredom with them.” (Ez.16: 17)
“Thou hast also become a whore with the Assyrians…Yes, you became a harlot with them…and have multiplied thy fornication from Canaan to Chaldea…How weak your heart is, saith the Lord God, since you do these things which are the work of an arrogant whore of a woman…as a wife who commits adultery, who takes strangers instead of her husband.” (Ez.16:28-32)
There are more than thirty such references among the Old Testament prophets, in all of which God ties the revelation about His covenant with Israel to the nature of a spousal relationship, in which the nature of Israel is revealed through women and the vocation of the wife.
Now let us turn to the Prophet Hosea. What was the relationship between God and Israel as our Lord began to speak through this holy prophet?
Hosea the prophet reveals to us not only God’s intended relationship with Israel, but also the very meaning of the covenant. It seems to me that in the Book of Hosea, we also have a complete revelation of the meaning of redemption and of that “atonement ” which Jesus Christ was to effect for us, as opposed to the idolatrous idea of juridicalism proffered by Scholastics and Augustinians.
God laments, through the holy prophets, that Israel has “gone a whoring” with idols and demonic “gods.” Israel has failed to understand that the Covenant which God made with them was not a legal agreement but a spousal relationship. The people of Israel may have understood in their minds that they had a covenant with God, but the reality of it never penetrated the heart of the nation. God was continually calling His people back from their adultery with “other gods,” and they were continually failing to understand and to be faithful. To my mind, these circumstances are most clearly revealed to us in Hosea’s prophetic ministry. At the time of this holy prophet, Israel has not only fallen into idolatry, but they have gone so far away from their relationship with God that they conceived in their minds the idea that God had a “wife,” an earth goddess named Easter. They did this after the fashion of the pagan religions, but in essence, it was a confession that they, the nation of Israel, were no longer the spouse of God.
They were in an adulterous relationship with the idols of the surrounding peoples and, having “left their first love,” wished Him off on someone else. God will demonstrate that He is faithful to Israel even if she is not faithful to Him. He loves the nation as a diligent husband loves his wife, and he desired nothing more earnestly than to deliver His spouse from separation and bondage. Since, in this revelation to Israel, Hosea is to be a representative of God Himself, the Lord instructs the prophet to take for himself a wife from among the pagan temple prostitutes. “Go and take a wife of the prostitutes and of the children of prostitution, for the land has committed great whoredom, departing from their Lord” (Hos.1:2). So Hosea took as a wife the temple prostitute, Gomer. When their first child was born, God commanded Hosea to name her Lorehamah, a name which signifies “no longer under mercy,” for Israel had removed herself from the shelter of God’s mercy. When the second child was born, God caused him to be named Lohammi, meaning, “no longer my people.” By this, God warned the people that, not only had they removed themselves from the shelter of His mercy, but they had cut themselves off from Him. Nevertheless, God promises reconciliation at the same time. He says, “And it shall come to pass that, whereas it was said to them, `You are not my people,’ it will be said to them, `You are the children of the Living God’.” (Hos.1:10).
Hosea’s wife Gomer, though unfaithful and a harlot, now becomes a prophetess. She is a revelation about the condition of the Church, the holy nation. Though the nation has betrayed its betrothal to God and turned its back on Him, yet He promises, “I will betroth thee to Me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in judgment and in lovingkindness and in mercy.”
When Gomer betrays her husband Hosea and returns into bondage to her whoredom, God commands the wronged husband, “Go, and continue to love a woman who is yet an adulteress, in likeness of the love of Yahweh toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love flagons of wine. So I redeemed her for fifteen silver coins and a measure and a half of barley…” (Hos.3:1-3).
Here we see that God has used both gender and the state of marriage in order to reveal to us the relationship between Him and His Church. We shall see this same imagery in the New Testament when Apostle Paul refers to the Church as Christ’s bride “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.”
It is clear that, though she was unfaithful and betrayed the spousal covenant with Hosea, Gomer was to be redeemed and restored for no other reason than because of love. This is a prophecy of the redemption of fallen mankind through the co-suffering love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We are redeemed to God and called into the covenant relationship of the New Testament with Him for no other reason than that He loves us. As the old Israel failed to grasp the meaning of the covenant as a spousal relationship, and so perished in dead legalism and the formalities of an external faith, so we are called upon to comprehend the covenant. Adultery is the only falling for which Christ permits a divorce precisely because spiritual adultery separates us from God and rejects redemption for us.
It occurs to me that Apostle Paul places the final exclamation point at the end of the Book of the Prophet Hosea when He says, “Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her” ( Eph.5:25). The crown of thorns which was driven into the head of the suffering Saviour was nothing else but the wedding crown with which Christ was crowned to His bride, the Church, and for this very reason, we sing, on Holy Pascha, that Christ “comes forth from the tomb like a bridegroom in procession.”
When God used the marriage of Hosea and Gomer as a revelation about the relationship between Himself and Israel in that day, He also revealed to us in a profound manner how marriage is a prophetic state which reveals the nature of the covenant and of the relationship between God and His Church. Apostle Paul reiterates that this is also the nature of the New Covenant, for:
“I have espoused you to one Husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” (2Cor.11:2).
John the Baptist also, seeking to bring Israel to an awareness of this relationship, says of Christ, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom…” (Jn.3:29). Moreover, in the Book of Revelation, this type is continued and made even more clear in the verses about the Second Coming:
“Let us be glad and rejoice and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His spouse has made herself ready. (19:7)
However a testament or covenant is established, it is clear that God intended it to be understood as a spousal relationship, not a juridical legal agreement, and that human gender and marriage are revelations about this relationship.
Clearly, the man is a revelation of Christ and the woman is a revelation about the Church. This occurs not only in the case of the unfaithful wife, but also in the case of those who were faithful and devout. Human gender and the spousal relationship are prophetic, and were given to us by God in the very beginning as a form of revelation. This is the essence of the mystery of human gender and of the roles of men and women in life and in the Church.
This is also the essence of our redemption. Christ did not come to earth on a juridical expedition to “satisfy God’s justice.” He came, like Prophet Hosea, to redeem His bride from bondage and whoredom. He came to redeem back to the Father’s house that which had been alienated from it, being “sold under sin” (Rm.7:14). He did this for no other reason than that He loves us and desires us to enter into His Holy Church and be saved. The image of a faithful and loving husband and wife living together chastely, is an image and revelation about our redemption.
The Revelation of the Great Women Prophets
In the resurrection, they are neither married nor given in marriage (Mt.22:30). There is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal.3:28)
When we think of the Old Testament prophets we are inclined to think only of the male prophets. We often lose the context of the great women of the Old Testament as prophets also. The tragedy in this is that it deprives us of the fulness of understanding of the Old Testament and of the nature of the Church itself. As we have seen above, marriage is a type and likeness of the Church, and Apostle Paul instructs us that in this likeness, the male is a type of Christ while the female is a type of the Church (see Eph.5:21f). This means that, as Christ was revealed through the male prophets in the Old Testament, the Church was revealed through the female prophets, beginning with Eve. It is not without reason that Christ says that the gender relation between men and women will not exist in the resurrection, and Paul instructs us that in the Kingdom, there is no longer the distinction of “male” and “female.” If human gender is given for prophecy, then when all prophecy has been fulfilled, there is no longer a need for prophets nor for the means of prophecy. When Christ and the Church have been visibly united, when all is clear and manifest, then the prophetic role of human gender will have been fulfilled and will pass away.
It is important for us to comprehend this, not only so that we will have a more complete understanding of the Old Testament and of the Church, but so that we can more easily correct the sin of relating the roles of men and women to relative value, placing a higher value on one than on the other, and the error of extrapolating the spiritual and liturgical role of each, removing it from the family and the liturgy and expanding it into industry and politics.
Somehow, the role of the men prophets of the Old Testament is more clearly understood. In order to balance our understanding, it is necessary to examine how the great women prophets revealed to us the nature of the Church, and in so doing, completed the prophecies about our redemption.
The Church existed before all ages, first in the eternal will of God. With the creation of the angels, the Church existed spiritually in the presence of God. When God created the paradise of Eden and placed Adam and Eve in it, He manifested His Church on earth. Adam and Eve were themselves a prophetic revelation about Christ and His Church, for the creation of man, as the holy fathers have said, was itself a prophecy about the incarnation of God the Word. God, Who knows all things from eternity to eternity, foreknowing the fall, revealed in the very creation of man and woman the nature of our future redemption. As St John Chrysostom says:
“As woman was formed out of the side of Adam as he slept, so the Church was fashioned out of the side of Christ as He died.” “For Christ was lifted up on the cross, and one of the soldiers pierced his side, and blood and water came forth; and of that blood and water, the whole Church was formed.” The saint continues saying that we are re-born through the water of Baptism and nourished through the Blood of Holy Communion.
In these words of this holy father, we already perceive the fundamental roles of male and female in revelation and prophecy.
With the fall of mankind, the “gates of paradise” were closed and, since Adam and Eve constituted the Church on earth, the Church also fell with them. It would continue, until its redemption, a shadowy existence. Now barren and no longer bearing the fruit of that blessed unity with God known in Eden, the Church continued on, bearing the hope of the promised restoration. God never stopped loving His Church, as the Apostle says, “Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for Her” (Eph.5:25). When all mankind had completely fallen away from that hope, God called Abraham and Sarah into the fallen Church and, through them, renewed the promise, so that in Abraham the prophecy of the Messiah, and in Sarah, the prophecy of His Church, might once more be made known. As Adam and Eve had been the apostles of God’s presence, so now Abraham and Sarah became the apostles of His promise.
Still, the Church had grown old and remained barren and without the fruit of life. Thus she was revealed by Esdras and by the Bishop of Hermas in the passages cited above. It is for this reason that the great women prophets of old were aged and barren women, unfruitful until they were touched by the grace of God and called to a special spiritual revelation in the bearing of children in their old age. Thus, the holy prophet Sarah had grown old and barren (like the Church), but hoping against hope in the promise of God, she waited with patience, trusting that what He had promised, He would surely fulfil. In the fulness of time, God chose to reveal not only His love and truth, but even the mystery of the Trinity. As Sarah and her husband waited out the heat of the day beneath the spreading branches of the great oak at Mambre in the land of promise, at midday, the Word Himself appeared to them with two angels. Abraham, recognising his Lord, rushed to worship Him and offer hospitality to his awesome visitors. So great was the revelation and promise about to be fulfilled in Sarah that the incarnation of God itself was shadowed in the type of the Holy Trinity which had appeared. For, truly, the mystery of the Trinity would be made manifest only when the incarnation of the Word restored the true holy nation and redeemed the Church from bondage, claiming her for His bride. It is for this reason that Christ, as God the Word, appeared personally at Mambre to initiate the founding of the Holy Nation by reaffirming the promise, as it were, “in person.”
In prophecy of this great redemption, Sarah was visited with the grace of God and became the mother of the holy nation, the foreimage of that “new nation called after” the name of Jesus Christ. Thus Sarah was the restoration of the revelation given through Eve in the beginning, the first in the great chain of women prophets through whom the Church was revealed. Christ, the founder of the Holy Nation, the redeemed and sanctified Church, is foretold in the son whom Sarah bore.
In the days of the prophet and judge of the nation Eli, his sons, the priests of God’s tabernacle, had fallen into the sin of indifference and lost their faith and fear of God. Then, God chose his servant and handmaid Hannah to reveal yet more about the Church and the Messiah.
In like manner as Sarah, the holy prophet Hannah was old and barren (like the Church). Praying constantly to God, with vows and fasting, she received a promise from Him. He would touch here aged womb with healing grace that she might bear a child to His glory. In the fulness of time, she gave birth to Samuel, that prophet who would replace the corrupted priests in the house of Eli. By God’s grace, Hannah became the mother of the new priesthood in Samuel, foretelling the redemption of the Church by the eternal High Priest, Jesus Christ, who replaced the corrupted priests of Israel and restored the Church with the perfect and everlasting sacrifice.
Finally, as the “fulness of time” drew near, God chose two more faithful handmaids to serve for the revelation of His Church. Like Sarah and Hannah, the holy prophet Elizabeth was barren into her old age, beseeching God to grant her a child. God called her to give birth to the forerunner of the redeemer, John the Baptist. Through Elizabeth, the Church cried out with the voice of the Forerunner. He announced the day of God’s Kingdom and proclaimed the Messiah to the barren and fallen Church and brought it to the very eve of its restoration. A little earlier, Anna, the wife of Joakim, being also barren and unfruitful in her old age, had prayed with vows and fasting for a child. She was called to be the mother of the Theotokos, the one chosen out of all ages and generations to be the mother of God in the saving incarnation.
And here, a great and dramatic change takes place. Suddenly, this unique manner of prophecy about the Church passes from barren older women to a very young virgin. Why? Because the “Old Testament” phase of the Church is passing away. The Church had become old and barren, no longer bearing the fruit of unity with God, as in Eden. Now, however, the prophetic role passes to a young virgin, who gives birth to her special child solely by the grace of the Holy Spirit, without the participation of a man. The barren Anna, the Church of the Old Testament, gives birth to the Ever-Virgin One, and Mary becomes the holy prophet through whom the New Testament Church, the redeemed and restored Church is revealed. The Church is renewed, redeemed, made fruitful once more. The Church has become a new creation, thus the revelation is no more through an elderly, barren woman, but through a young maiden, and in a completely new and unique manner. The Church is no longer the barren old woman of the Old Testament, but the “Pure virgin bride of Christ,” revealed in the pure virgin Theotokos. This transformation from shame and dishonour, for so the Jews considered childlessness to be, to grace filled purity and exaltation, brought about the twilight of the Old Testament and the end to the exile of the Church; it ushered in the everlasting dawn of the New Covenant and welcomed the new day of restoration and glory — the eighth day of creation, the day of redemption. The fallen human nature would be recapitulated (Eph.1:10) in Christ, the Church would be re-created from His life-bearing side and the descent of the Holy Spirit. Paradise would be restored.
What of the specific revelation of the Old Testament women prophets? Christ is the new “founder of the holy nation.” The “holy nation” is seen to be not the ethnic Israel, but the Church itself, as Apostle Paul so clearly reminds us. This is what Sarah was foretelling in her miraculous childbearing. Her child, the firstborn of the “holy nation” was the work of God’s grace and not of human will and design. Nevertheless, it was a foreimage and prophecy and so destined to pass away with its fulfilment. As with Hannah, the child borne by Mary will replace the corrupted high priesthood (Hb.6:2-7:28), and restore and fulfil the priesthood. With Anna and Elizabeth, this line of revelation was brought to an end, for “type” and prophecy stand only until their fulfilment.
What of the other women of the Old Testament? We will not discuss them in detail here, for we have established the facts that are necessary. Let us only recall them by reading the eighth ode of the Akathist Hymn for the Theotokos, Joy of Canada:
When our forebears lost paradise and brought the Church to barrenness, God proclaimed His promises prophetically through the holy women and filled it with hope. Thou, O Theotokos, art the seal of the promises, the fulfilment of the hope of the fallen Church, wherefore we cry out to Him Who came forth from thee: Alleluia.
In thee, O Theotokos, are the promises made manifest and all prophecy is fulfilled in Him Whom thou didst bear. The expectation of the ages has come to pass and the hope of the holy women prophets is made complete. Wherefore we cry to thee:
Rejoice, with Eve, for the serpent is bruised,
Rejoice, with Sarah, for the Holy Nation is redeemed,
Rejoice, with the righteous daughters, for the inheritance is secured,
Rejoice, with Esther, for the spiritual Haman is slain,
Rejoice, with Ruth, for the gentiles are delivered,
Rejoice, with Hannah, for the priesthood is perfected,
Rejoice, with Elizabeth, for her son’s prophecy is fulfilled,
Rejoice, with Anna, for the barrenness of the Church is healed,
Rejoice, Joy of Canada.
The Implications for the Liturgical Priesthood of Gender Roles as Prophecy
We specify the “liturgical priesthood” because all baptised Orthodox believers are part of the “royal priesthood” (1Pet.2:9). All are members of the “royal priesthood” because only the priesthood can partake of the things of the altar, and all are called to receive the mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ — the “things of the altar” — in Holy Communion. Nevertheless, only men are called to the liturgical or “ordained” priesthood.
To understand the reason why women are not enrolled in the priesthood, we must first of all put away one treacherous presupposition: that it has to do with relative value. It does have to do with roles, but here again, there is a destructive presupposition. Many people have, for centuries, equated roles with value, and they have extended the roles of men and women in the liturgical life of the Church (which deals with prophecy and revelation) to society, politics and industry __ which have nothing to do with the faith or the salvation of humanity.
The roles we are speaking of have nothing to do with caste, personal value or human worthiness. The roles of men and women in the Church are prophetic and deal with prophecy and revelation. Thus, throughout Scriptural history, women have held the prophetic role of revealing the Church: the nature and mission of the Church on earth (which is why in heaven, there is neither male nor female: because the Church on earth will have fulfilled her mission, and the revelation and prophecy about her will no longer be needed; likewise, the visible presence of Christ will bring to an end the prophetic role of the male). The prophecy about Christ has been proclaimed through the male prophets, with one exception: Eve. The promise to Eve that her offspring would wound Satan’s head was a clear prophecy, not about the Church but about Christ. That offspring was Christ, Who came forth from the Virgin as a fulfilment of this prophecy given through Eve. This is why we call Mary “the second Eve.”
The role of priest in the Church belongs only to Christ. He is the priesthood of the Church. He is also the spouse and husband of the Church. Christ’s visible priesthood in the Church is fulfilled through the ordained priests, more precisely, through the bishops of the Church (who delegate this to parish presbyters since the bishop cannot be everywhere).
Thus, the prophetic role of men is in revelation about Christ, and the prophetic role of women is in revelation about the Church. There is no relative value in these roles, since the mystery of redemption is the mystery of Christ and the Church. It should be clear, however, that while women fulfil a ministry in the Church (first of all, the prophetic ministry) they do not enter into the priesthood, which is a revelation about Christ, not about the Church. A woman in the priesthood would have to be presenting a revelation about the husband of the Church, the spouse of the “spotless, pure bride of Christ.” Do you not see how perverted and corrupt such a “revelation and prophecy” would be?
This same prophetic role extends, incidentally, to the family, quite naturally, as the very intent of marriage is to be, as Scripture clearly declares, a revelation about the relationship between Christ and the Church (Eph. Ch. 5).
For those who have lost their faith or who have usurped the authority of God, it may seem logical to change the nature of His revelation and even of the Gospel of salvation itself. It may seem reasonable to unbelievers to corrupt and pervert society, and so also reasonable to corrupt and pervert the nature of divine revelation and the order of prophecy so that the Gospel itself is devoured in human self-worship and conceit. For believing Orthodox Christians, however, the revelation of God and His prophecy stand immutable, unchangeable and without challenge. The respective roles of men and women, both in the Church and in the family, are not roles of relative value or worth, but roles of prophecy and revelation. Let everything remain in the order and grace which God has ordained for it, that the Gospel might be proclaimed, not in empty words, but in life itself, in the very experience of living life according to the plan of God.
Men are worth no more than women, women no more than men. But if we allowed the prophetic role of either or both to be corrupted, then we destroy the ultimate worth of both, and pervert the Gospel of Christ, corrupting our families and yielding to the wiles of Satan.